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Enterprise hits and misses - bring on the humanizing work debate, as Apple's new iPhone brings the 5G circus to town

Jon Reed Profile picture for user jreed October 19, 2020
This week - has COVID forced a necessary humanization of work? The debate is joined. Remote work versus "back to work" employers continues on - right into the whiffs section. As does Apple's new "5G" iPhone - which comes with a major asterisk, at least in the U.S.

King Checkmate

Lead story - Humanizing work post-COVID

MyPOV: Are we moving away from a "transactional" workplace? If so, that would be one of the good stories we wrestle from these adverse times.

Janine takes the matter up in Humanizing work post-COVID - get radical, share more and go deeper. She quotes Brian Kropp, Chief of HR Research at Gartner:

What has really accelerated with COVID-19 is the sense that that deal is changing and is shifting from being a transactional deal, where I give you my effort and I get your money (from an employee perspective), to a much more humanized deal.

Kropp cites three characteristics of a humanized workplace:

  1. Radical flexibility (not just where you work, but how much).
  2. Shared social purpose.
  3. Forging deeper connections with employees.

Another interesting point: we need more data on workers to tailor an individual work plan for them. Kropp says its a shift from analytics on the workforce, to better data on each individual.

I wish I shared the optimism on this topic. The way I see it, to strike a better deal, you need leverage. Right now, employers have most of it. Ask Amazon delivery drivers about "radical flexibility" sometime. But - this does give exceptional employers a framework. Flexibility on how much you work is dreamy, but flexibility on location - that part just might stick. Companies that aren't obsessed about seeing you in the office will embrace it (more on that in the whiffs section). Not because they are embracing a human workplace, but because the cost savings are undeniable. Nothing like saving money to force change.

Meanwhile, if we're going to humanize the workplace, bro culture needs to peace out. Cath addresses that in Ada Lovelace Day - tackling the toxic tech 'bro culture'"

Ada Lovelace would be horrified by several studies revealing the amount of harassment female tech workers face on a daily basis.

With the prevalence of incidents Cath reports on here, the question of what to do looms large. Can't get away from structural change:

To really be sustainable, Kapin believes a shake-up is required at the organisational level. This includes an “overhaul” of the way HR works and the creation of a more diverse board at all levels, so not just in terms of gender, but also in areas such as race and age too.

A truly "humanized" workplace isn't going land in our lap. Better get crackin'...

Vendor analysis, diginomica style. Here's my three top choices:

Unit4 - Experience4U roundup - Unit4's annual user conference went virtual, with diginomica as an editorial event partner. Here's a couple keepers - you can also check our full Experience4U collection.

A few more vendor picks:

Virtual event reviews - some (unexpected) high points from SAP shows - good virtual events have been as rare as a YouTube video without invasive, faux-personalized ads Thylacine sighting, but Den and I caught good ones recently, each with lessons other vendors can/should apply.

Jon's grab bag - will the issue of problematic software (over)pricing get a fresh look in pandemic times? We can only hope - $aa$ customers deserve better. Den explains how SAP's Bob Stutz sparked this debate in SAP's Bob Stutz rips off the enterprise software pricing Band-Aid as DSAG reports significant redlines in member revenue. Den tackles pricing from another angle in Teradata makes a fresh pricing play.

Den wrote about an employment contract like no other in An employment contract that will give HR a heart attack but put a smile on new hire faces (if you haven't seen the "contract," this is a must-click for you today). Finally, Neil provided context for what's stoking his AI fires in this piece, AI inevitability - can we separate bias from AI innovation?

Best of the rest

Waiter suggesting a bottle of wine to a customer

My top six from the enterprise web: 

Overworked businessman


With the onset of Apple's new "5G" phones, the 5G circus continues. As per Techdirt:

One survey this week found that nearly 50% of smartphone owners think they already have 5G. The general consensus among consumers so far is one of confusion, probably not helped by AT&T's longstanding decision to pretend 4G is 5G.

Ya think? For those who bought a pandemic hood ornament new iPhone just for the 5G, I just hope you don't live in the U.S., where 5G is as slow as Vermont maple syrup.

Remote work isn't for everybody. The airlines (American and now United), have been helpfully warning us that Zoom isn't good for business - getting back onto planes is. Despite not even blocking off middle seats. As per ZDNet:

For now, however, his airline has to focus on leisure travelers, customers who haven't always been treated with assiduous care by many airlines.

Can I get another "ya think?" I got snarky about a goofy work-from-home dress code study:

Then there are the culture mall cops beauty bozos over at L'Oreal, trying to compel frightened employees back to a premature office return. They must have a pretty good reason for getting employees into cubicles, right? How about:

The world of beauty is not a remote or virtual one.

But evidently the "world of beauty" is compatible with transmitting viral diseases. Nice job - you have to try pretty hard to lose the plot this completely. So much for that "humanizing workforces" thing...

All is not doom and gloom, however. The pandemic has its heroes also, fools they may be:

See you next time... If you find an #ensw piece that qualifies for hits and misses - in a good or bad way - let me know in the comments as Clive (almost) always does. Most Enterprise hits and misses articles are selected from my curated @jonerpnewsfeed. 'myPOV' is borrowed with reluctant permission from the ubiquitous Ray Wang.

Image credit - Waiter Suggesting Bottle © Minerva Studiom, Overworked Businessman © Bloomua, King Checkmate © mystock88photo - all from

Disclosure - Oracle, Workday, Sage Intacct, Unit4 and Salesforce are diginomica premier partners as of this writing.

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